Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Recovery day, biking, shoe review: Altra Escalante

Another dry beautiful day in Sewanee.  A little warmer today, upper 70ºs.   Needed a recovery day off the track to day so I rode the bike about 13-14 miles.

I didn't mention this but I went out last Friday, to warm up and try out a new pair of shoes: the Altra Escalante.   This shoe has received much praise and awards among running publications.  I have to say, it is completely different from any shoe I've ever worn.  The shape is strikingly different.  It seems to conform better than any shoe to the natural shape of the foot.  It is noticeably different shaped from any running shoe I've ever worn.  It is particularly great for someone who strikes on the outside of the foot like most sprinter / middle distance runners do.  

It's a zero drop shoe, unlike my Hokas which have about a 5mm drop.  It seemed nice and light, nicely flexible.  Lacing up was difficult because the knit upper seemed to create a lot of friction on the laces and the minimalist upper was a bit stretchy.  Combined with a exceptionally roomy forefoot, it just seemed really hard to get it tight.  It seemed to run large but that is how it's designed.  Also has a very minimalist heel.  It was super comfortable.  

Doing a few straight away striders, it felt great... the unique 5 toe sole provided an unexpectedly good traction grip on the track and the 'ego foam' sole was very bouncy and responsive.  Almost like the Clifton 1s .  It made me want to run fast.    

But... there was a deal breaker.  Regrettably, I had to return them.

I tried to run an easy 31 sec pace 200m and the shoe just did not stay firm to the foot.  It was just too sloppy.  Obviously, this shoe was never designed for track sprints on turns.  It's basically the upper that is the problem.  It's great if you're just running in a straight line, but doesn't cut it on turns.  

They make a more cushioned shoe with a different upper, the "Torin 3.5" has a mesh upper option ... which is said to offer a better forefoot lockdown.  Unfortunately, it doesn't have the same 'ego foam' that the Escalante has.  Their new version max cushioned "Paradigm 4.0" does have the 'ego foam' but is a heavier shoe with a knit upper.  

It's really too bad Altra doesn't have an Escalante with a mesh upper option ... or a Torin with the 'ego foam' sole.  Close but no cigar.  

I may try the mesh Torin 3.5.  If it has the same shape as the Escalante, it may be worth checking out.  Too bad it doesn't have the 'ego foam'.  

Altra seems to listen to customers, I just read that a new Escalante 1.5 with an improved upper is coming out in July '18.  I think I'll wait for it.  

Check out the cutting edge:  Nike's newest elite shoe - the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint.  A 3D printed shoe, only available to the pros.  I thought the Vaporfly 4% was expensive at $250.  These are said to cost $600.  Promo video.

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